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Journey to my MBA

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

HAAS, Berkeley visit and info session

Monday was a pretty eventful day. I went to visit Berkeley, HAAS with PowerYogi. We had a tour of the B-school with two 1st years named Miguel and Margaret. The end of the tour included a pay our own lunch followed by an info session held by two 2nd years, Marc and Rushell. They were all very helpful and honest. PowerYogi and I then went to a core 2hr class called Organizational Behavior run by Prof Pino G. Audia. Afterwards, PowerYogi and I met up with a fellow blogger better known as Chunky Pitbull. He’s a nice guy and offered many insights into what he’s learned about the school thus far. I’m so happy for him to be in school.

About the school tour and our walk onto campus. First of all, HAAS is located on the far backside of the campus up the hill. The building is made of grey concrete and lends itself to fit in somewhat with the old catholic church architecture of the original school buildings.

We visited the computer center and the library which were nice. Not great, but nice. Both had rooms that could be used by B-school students. We then went through the student lounge. It was full of comfortable leather couches and mailbox slots for every student. We then went to through some doors and into the multi-story cafeteria lounge. Dozens of students sat at various tables, laptops open discussing their projects. A few students sat alone reviewing notes and reading case study files. It was easy to picture myself in their shoes.

We went to lunch in the staff lounge just downhill from the school. The staff lounge interior reminded me of an elks lounge. There were even moose and deer heads on the walls. There were 12 visitors so we barely fit at one table. Some things that I learned from the tour were:
1) The 1st quarter is crazy. 2nd years literally give a lot of space to the 1st years during this time and have a ball pointing and giggling at the hardship of the 1st years. All in jest and good fun.
2) 80% of the students live within 2 miles of the school. The other 15% live in San Francisco across the bridge. You can take the Bart train over the bay bridge to get to school. Albeit, it’s an hour ride. There just aren’t any graduate residence halls. It’s all on your own in the various apartments around the perimeter of the school.
3) It was highly recommended that despite the draw of SF, that because students are on campus basically all day and everyday (even Saturdays) that living further away gained no real benefit and actually made things like sleep hard on students.
4) If you can at all, forgo the romance of taking all the initial classes with your classmates. Test out of the ones you can. This gives opportunity to take more electives. I would take this bit of advice VERY serious. I’m not doing justice to what was said.
5) The career center has left much of the 1st years alone so far. They send e-mails to notify students of upcoming events and career seminars to attend if they so desire.
6) There were lockers for students to use. Most students come to school wearing comfortable clothes. When there are corporate events and the like, having a spare set of nice clothes in the locker makes things more convenient to be ready on a moments notice.
7) The B-school is situated next to the school of architecture, engineering and law. Moreover some undergraduates take classes in the b-school as well. Not sure if they do so with the same grad school profs. My point is that the activity of people walking around the center atrium area and cafeteria lounge at HAAS comes from all the neighboring grad schools, undergrads and the HAAS students.

About the info session: (It was done verbally with no powerpoint)
HAAS has one MBA major in general management. Although there are certificates in various industries like marketing, finance and information technology. There are multiple dual majors one can get like an MBA-JD, MBA-PHd in public Health and some others.
HAAS students can take up to 6 units without admissions approval at the other grad schools throughout Berkeley. Since 97% of the grad schools are ranked in the top 10 in their industry, this is a great opportunity. The law school appears to be the more popular school to take extra classes at.
Students are broken up into 60 people cohorts and 4 people study groups. All of which are chosen by the admissions committee. The groups are diverse both in diversity and education/ work background. There are 240 students in each new class. Interestingly though the matriculation rate is 50% of those that are accepted to HAAS. Technically, there were 230 students admitted this past year.
For electives, students are given 1000pts to bid for elective classes that are popular, but many of these classes are taught every quarter. So the bid points are more about choosing when you want to take the class as opposed to if you take the class.
Classes are taught in case method, lecture and a hybrid of both.
There are student initiated classes where executives are brought in to teach classes. These student run classes are worth 1 unit and meet about 1 a week. Pretty cool.
One of the way in which HAAS instills teamwork is by having every class having some sort of group project. In fact, some classes are 90% based on the project grade.
Grades are voted on every year by the students as to whether they are disclosed or not disclosed. So far, they haven’t had a single year where grades were disclosed. They haven’t voted yet for this year.
The international scope of the school is like many others in that they have the ability to take classes abroad. There is an international business development project students can partake in that is a 3 week long paid project.
There are many requests by companies in the area that request consulting projects by HAAS students. They’re non-paid for, but there are more project requests than students can honestly handle.
The Global Social Business plan competition is a big deal at HAAS. It’s such a big deal that it has now become a 3 school competition with Columbia and LBS now part of it.
The student body is very diverse. I reviewed the student photo book for this year and found that the students definitely don’t come anything close to reflect the diversity of the students in the info sessions I’ve been to at other schools. As you recall, the info sessions I’ve attended were 90% Asian. This reflects well on HAAS.

What makes HAAS unique?
1) The San Francisco/Silicon Valley advantage of being able to attract leading executives for lectures and seminars.
2) Diversity of students that aren’t as strongly finance oriented as other schools, moreover HAAS is not as tech oriented as you’d expect either.
3) Small class size and focus on one major.

The class experience.
The class I attended was great. PowerYogi and I were escorted to the class and the student ambassador introduced us to the class. The students clapped, respectful and welcoming. Some students walked up to us and talked with us during the break and after class. It was great. We sat in the back of the class and the prof again had us introduce ourselves as he wasn’t there when we came into the class. He was so nice to us. He even gave us hardcopies of the case studies he was going through. As I’m not really experienced in case method teaching, I did notice that the class started out very slow. Students were asked for + and – issues of the case. They were listed and discussed. Then the class picked up pace as the Prof went into some key points and theories that the case illustrated. I so wanted to raise my hand and provide input into the discussion. I honestly contemplated doing it a couple of times, but I thankfully remembered my place.

My one complaint is that the class didn’t have sufficient air conditioning. In fact, it was odd to see 4 white fans overhead circulating the air. The room was warm and despite the open windows, I noticed at least ½ a dozen student fall asleep a bit during class. HAAS needs to address this classroom environment problem. It’s been 90-93 degrees here this week.

It was a good experience and I found that I liked HAAS.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Dave. I am applying from very far and have no chance to visit Berkeley. Your honest description gives a clear view beyond all nice and fancy brochures.


5:11 PM  

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